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Full text of "A history of Persia"

76                   HISTORY OF PERSIA
China date from the ninth century. The voyages of a
merchant called Suhyman and of 11m YValvub of Basra
were undertaken in the first and second half of this
century respectively, and from the account ol them given
in the S<il$ahit-al-Ttitwtirikhi or "Chain of Chronicles/1 by
Sayyid Hasan, of Siraf in the Persian Ciulf, we learn that
the voyages started from this port. The route taken was
by Maskat, Kulam and the Nicobar Islands, to Kalah
in the Malay Peninsula, from which it was about a
month's sail to Canton. So important was the foreign
colony, according to Sulayman, that a Moslem was ap-
pointed at Canton by the Chinese to maintain order
among his co-religionists.
Moslem travellers also traversed the Indian Ocean
and probably reached Madagascar to the south, while to
the north the steppes of Russia were penetrated by the
same merchant-explorers. The voyages preserved to us
in the <c Adventures of Sindbad the Sailor/* in the guise of
charming stories abounding with marvels, give us a
delightful picture of the world as it was known to the
Moslem mariner and merchant, and arc worthy of study
from that point of view alone.
Among the famous Moslems may he reckoned the
three great geographers, Istakhri, an inhabitant of Istakhr^
Ibn Haukalj and Mukaddasi. These scientific authorities
succeeded llm Khurcladbih/ the Postmaster-General of the
Caliphate, who in the preceding century drew up what
may best be described as a " Route Book/' in which he
tabulated the distances and other information concerning
the various routes leading from Baghdad, The systematic
geographers of the tenth century describe fully each
province of the Caliphate on an ordered system, giving
also the main trunk routes incidentally in connexion with
their descriptions. The work of Ibn I laukal is but a new
edition of the Persian geographer with certain modifica-
tions. Istakhri treats of his native province of Kars in
considerable detail, whereas Ibn Haukd treats all the
provinces in the same proportion.
Mukaddasi, their contemporary, "wrote his geography
1 Dawn of Modern Ges>graph)\ vol* i* p. 41 <{ ft'.